Mercado's 5 TDs lift Calvary Chapel


COSTA MESA – Coming out of halftime trailing by 11 points, Estancia received the ball with a chance to cut Calvary Chapel’s lead to one possession, but Calvary Chapel’s Anthony Mercado made sure no such comeback was possible.

Mercado streaked into the backfield to recover a mishandled snap and returned it for a touchdown twice within 21/2 minutes of game clock to open the half, including on the first play to blow open Calvary Chapel’s 53-20 win over visiting Estancia.

Mercado, an El Toro transfer playing in his second game, also scored three times on the ground in the first half for five total touchdowns, a career high.

“I was blitzing up the middle but both times I gave a little move to the guard,” Mercado said of how he was able to get into the backfield so quickly.

After losing its first five games, Calvary Chapel, the defending Orange Coast League champion, is 2-0 in its first two league games with an average margin of victory of 34.

“The kids are starting to learn that the details matter and are focusing on the little things,” Calvary Chapel coach Chris Cox said. “And getting Tony (Anthony) Mercado eligible sure doesn’t hurt.”

The Eagles scored on each of its first five possessions, including on its 13-play opening drive, which was capped by a 5-yard score by Mercado.

Estancia (1-6, 0-2) scored on a 90-yard touchdown off a fake fly sweep pass from Tyler Ross to Hayden Pearce.

A long kickoff return by Kaden Headington set up Mercado’s second touchdown, this one from 30 yards out.

Following an Estancia punt, Calvary Chapel (2-5, 2-0) got its own big pass play down the field, when Robbie Haw found Payton Rogers down the sideline for an 81-yard catch and run. Estancia cut Calvary Chapel’s lead to five a fumble landed in Jordan Balcazar’s hands and he went the remaining six yards for the score.

Calvary Chapel recovered Estancia’s onside attempt and marched in 11 plays for another Mercado rushing touchdown to round out their first half scoring.

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